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Adelphia spokesman answers questions about cable fee hike

Because the Ironton City Council expressed opposition to the cable rate increase at the last meeting, Steve Tripp, representative from Adelphia Cable in Chillicothe, attended a meeting Thursday to answer questions about the impending service hike.

Two weeks ago, council adopted an ordinance opposing the Nov. 1 increase and inviting representatives from Adelphia to the next meeting. Although the ordinance will not stop the increase, council wanted to show its position on the issue.

At that time, Brenda L. Holdren, government relations manager for Adelphia, said the increase is to cover basic operations and that the company has seen an increase in programming costs, wages, specialized training, utilities, fuel, insurance and equipment.

Tripp cited these same reasons. On the average, each cable plan increased by $2 per month and the premium movie channels increased by $1.

Ironton's rates last increased 16 or 17 months ago. Adelphia now offers high-speed Internet access. Currently, about 1,000 people within the city use the service, Tripp said.

The company will also add a few additional channels, he said.

"I know you don't see other cable systems, but you have one of the best systems there is because of high speed access and programming," Tripp said.

Country Music Television, the Outdoor Channel, Speedvision and the Travel Channel will be added to the basic cable line-up. Inspirational Life, FX Movies and Noggins will be added to the digital basic package. Two of the 30 pay-per-view channels will be dropped.

Stations to be added are determined through public input and other factors. CMT was available several years ago and people requested the channel be added, Tripp said.

A few citizens were in the audience to address their concerns with the service. Linda Fraley talked to council and Tripp about adding the Eternal Word Television Network, a station that features religious programming. Others expressed interest in the Familyland channel.

Fraley said she and many other members of the community would like to see the stations added.

"We would just like to have some family oriented programs," she said. "I don't get my money's worth."

Councilman Brent Pyles and John Elam mentioned that many people have expressed interest in the Ohio News Network.

Council still opposes the raise but appreciated the fact that Tripp came to address the issue. Tripp said he would look into the concerns and contact council.

Adelphia's contract to provide cable service to the city expires in 2006.

In other business, Council heard the first reading of an amended ordinance that would allow bed and breakfasts to be established in residentially zoned areas. The ordinance was proposed last month but had been tabled until some language could be clarified.

The ordinance will be sent to the zoning committee to be reviewed and discussed in a public hearing. Councilman Jesse Roberts said he sponsored the ordinance after talking with a few people who had expressed interest.

Very few homes in the city would meet the requirements. Sixty percent of the adjacent property owners must agree, there must be sufficient rooms and off street parking and the owner must live in the home and operate it, he said.

Roberts said it is not designed to hurt anyone's property value and could provide something the city is lacking. Currently there are no bed and breakfast inns or hotels within the city.

If the zoning committee approves the ordinance, council can pass it with a simple majority. If the committee does not approve it, council would require six of seven votes to adopt the ordinance, Roberts said.

Roberts said he wants to encourage input from the community and from other members of council. The public hearing has not yet been scheduled.